Bill Gates-Led Fund Backs Lake’s Technology Partner Lilac

Lake Resources (ASX:LKE) is pleased to announce that Lilac Solutions has raised US$20 million in Series A funding.

  • Lake Resources planned sustainable lithium production using direct extraction technology provider – Lilac Solutions – has gained the investment support of the Bill Gates -led fund, Breakthrough Energy, leading an investment round of US$20 million.
  • Breakthrough Energy Ventures looks to invest in startups that are capable of cutting emissions. The fund’s investors include Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc., and Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg LP. MIT’s The Engine fund is another key investor in Lilac.
  • Lilac Solutions has partnered with Lake Resources and the first pilot plant using Lilac’s technology will start in Argentina later this year.

Lithium explorer and developer Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) is pleased to announce that Lake’s technology provider of a direct extraction ion exchange process, Lilac Solutions, has raised US$20 million in Series A funding. Led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion fund established by many of the world’s top business leaders to support companies with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the round includes participation from MIT’s The Engine fund, Lowercarbon Capital, and The Grantham Foundation.

Lilac is commercialising a new ion exchange technology for lithium extraction from brine resources that is significantly faster, cheaper, and more scalable than existing technology. The process does away with the need for large evaporation ponds and is able to return the lithium-depleted brine back underground. Lilac’s funding will enable the expansion of its engineering team, scale up production of its unique ion exchange beads, the core of the company’s lithium extraction system, and deploy the Lilac technology.

“This is a great vote of confidence in Lake’s strategy from known successful investors to use direct extraction methods to produce high purity lithium. This is quality, third party validation in Lake selecting Lilac as our technology provider providing increased efficiency in recoveries and a shorter time to market with sustainable lithium products and a smaller environmental footprint without expansive evaporation ponds”, said Lake’s Managing Director Steve Promnitz. “These investors made money by investing in disruptive technologies, seeing opportunities and promoting higher efficiencies with greater environmental outcomes.”

Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures stated that “While the electrification of vehicles is one of the most promising opportunities to reduce global emissions, today’s limited supplies of battery raw materials like lithium and cobalt challenge this transition. Lilac Solutions’ novel technology can change the supply and demand equation by helping lithium producers extract much larger quantities at a significantly lower cost, and from new sources. This is the type of industrial innovation required to support a transition to EVs at scale.”

David Snydacker, Chief Executive Officer of Lilac Solutions, stated that “Other companies have tried to build these ion-exchange beads in the past, but they were either not selective enough at picking lithium out of the mixture of minerals or fell apart after just a few cycles.”

Lake aims for sustainable lithium production at its Kachi Lithium Brine Project producing a high quality, low impurity product capable of attracting premium pricing. The PFS which is almost completed is anticipated to show production costs in the lower part of the global cost curve.

The direct extraction process, together with the Kachi project, offers a sustainable solution for the downstream battery makers by extracting lithium from brines using ion exchange without traditional evaporation ponds. Brine is returned to the aquifer once the lithium has been extracted without changing the brine chemistry. This addresses increasing interest from electric vehicle makers (OEM’s) and battery makers to demonstrate they have access to a sustainable scalable supply chain for raw materials.

Brine samples are being transported from Kachi and expected to arrive late next week to the docks in Oakland, California. These brine samples will be initially used to complete the commissioning of a Lilac Solutions pilotscale ion exchange module. High-purity lithium chloride will be produced for conversion to battery-grade lithium carbonate. Deliveries of lithium carbonate samples to downstream groups are being planned to start the qualification process with off takers.

Lake looks forward to reporting on progress through to first large samples being produced late next month.

For further information please contact:

Steve Promnitz, Managing Director

Follow Lake on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lake_Resources

+61 2 9188 7864

Follow on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/lake-resources/

steve@lakeresources.com.au

Website: http://www.lakeresources.com.au

About Lilac Solutions

Lilac Solutions is a mining technology company based in Oakland, California. Lilac has developed a patented ion exchange technology that facilitates production of lithium from abundant brine resources with minimal cost and ultra-low environmental footprint. Lilac’s mission is to increase lithium supplies needed for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.

http://www.lilacsolutions.com/news/lilac-solutions-raises-series-a

About Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE)

Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE, Lake) is a lithium exploration and development company focused on developing its three lithium brine projects and a hard rock project in Argentina, all owned 100%. The leases are in a prime location among the lithium sector’s largest players within the Lithium Triangle, where 40% of the world’s lithium is produced at the lowest cost. Lake holds one of the largest lithium tenement packages in Argentina (~200,000Ha) which provides the potential for consistent security of supply, scalable as required.

Lake considers it is in a strong position to benefit from the market opportunity in electric vehicles and the batteries that power the energy revolution due to:

  1. High Purity Lithium Carbonate samples (99.9%) with very low impurities, recently produced from the pilot plant using a direct extraction process (ion exchange);
  2. Increased Engagement with Off-takers as larger samples are produced, anticipated from late March 2020 onwards, for off-takers to commence qualification testing to then engage to assist in financing;
  3. Kachi Project PFS, in the final stages of completion which is anticipated to show projected production costs at the lower end of the cost curve similar to current lithium brine producers. The Kachi project has a resource (announced Nov 2018) considered large enough for long term production and could be potentially scaled to a much larger project is required as leases cover an area 10 times Manhattan.
  4. Sustainable and Scalable Future Lithium Production, demanded by the larger Electric Vehicle makers and an increasing number of battery/cathode makers, who need to show both the quality and provenance of battery materials for ESG/sustainability and carbon footprint reporting. The direct extraction process reinjects brine once the lithium has been removed using ion exchange beads without affecting the chemistry. This means a much smaller footprint and less water usage because evaporation ponds are not used.

The Kachi project covers 70,000 ha over a salt lake south of FMC/Livent’s lithium operation in Catamarca Province. Drilling confirmed a large lithium brine bearing basin over 20km long, 15km wide and 400m to 800m deep. Drilling over Kachi produced a maiden indicated and inferred resource of 4.4 Mt LCE (Indicated 1.0Mt, Inferred 3.4Mt) (refer ASX announcement 27 November 2018).

A direct extraction technique has been tested in partnership with Lilac Solutions, with a pilot plant being commissioned, which has shown 80-90% recoveries and lithium brine concentrations over 60,000 mg/L lithium. Battery grade lithium carbonate (99.9% purity) has been produced from Kachi brine samples with very low impurities (Fe, B, with <0.001 wt%). Phase 1 Engineering Study results have shown operating costs forecast in the lowest cost quartile (refer ASX announcement 10 December 2018). Test results have been incorporated into a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) in the final stages of completion. The Lilac pilot plant in California will produce samples for downstream participants prior to being transported to site to produce larger battery grade lithium samples. Discussions are advanced with downstream entities, mainly battery/cathode makers, as well as financiers, to jointly develop the project.

The Olaroz-Cauchari and Paso brine projects are located adjacent to major world class brine projects either in production or being developed in the highly prospective Jujuy Province. The Olaroz-Cauchari project is located in the same basin as Orocobre’s Olaroz lithium production and adjoins the Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project, with high grade lithium (600 mg/L) with high flow rates drilled immediately across the lease boundary.

The Cauchari project has shown lithium brines over 506m interval with high grades averaging 493 mg/L lithium (117-460m) with up to 540 mg/L lithium. These results are similar to lithium brines in adjoining leases scheduled for production in late 2020 and infer an extension and continuity of these brines into Lake’s leases (refer ASX announcements 28 May, 12 June 2019).

Significant corporate transactions have occurred in adjacent leases with development of Ganfeng Lithium/Lithium Americas Cauchari project as Ganfeng announced a US$397 million investment for 50% of the Cauchari project, together with a resource that had doubled to be the largest on the planet. Ganfeng then announced a 10 year lithium supply agreement with Volkswagen on 5 April 2019. Nearby projects of Lithium X were acquired via a takeover offer of C$265 million completed March 2018. The northern half of Galaxy’s Sal de Vida resource was purchased for US$280 million by POSCO in June-Dec 2018. LSC Lithium was acquired in Jan-Mar 2019 for C$111 million by a mid-tier oil & gas company with a resource size half of Kachi. Orocobre has announced on 19 Feb 2020 the acquisition of all shares in Advantage Lithium, valued at around C$63 million, which holds leases next to Lake at Cauchari. These transactions imply an acquisition cost of US$55-110 million per 1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in resources.

For more information on Lake, please visit http://www.lakeresources.com.au/home/

Click here to connect with Lake Resources NL (ASX:LKE) for an Investor Presentation

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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